PINNING its hopes on the fleet market for another bumper year in 2016 looks like it is paying off for Jaguar Land Rover.
The company's UK managing director Jeremy Hicks is looking forward to another record breaking year and reckons the company's main growth will come in the fleet market.
Fleet sales grew by 84 per cent in the first three months of 2016 compared to the first quarter in 2015, as the XE, XF, Evoque and Discovery Sport models all posted rapid fleet sales growth - evidence of Jaguar Land Rover's commitment to ensure 25 per cent of its global sales will be to fleet and business customers by 2020.
With the introduction of business-friendly models, including the XE and XF with CO2 from as low as 99g/km, Jaguar UK saw fleet sales grow by 194 per cent from Q1 2015 to Q1 2016.
Land Rover UK's performance so far this year was so strong that one-in-three fleet cars sold in sectors the brand competes in was a Land Rover.
At a special briefing at the car giant's engine manufacturing centre in Wolverhampton, Mr Hicks said: "Our fleet & business results for 2015 are fantastic and prove we have an effective formula in place; we have desirable and sector appropriate cars, efficient Ingenium engines and class-leading total cost of ownership - together, these factors deliver a compelling proposition for fleet managers to add Jaguar Land Rover to their fleet lists.
‘With this formula in mind, and with an ever expanding range of stunning Jaguar and Land Rover vehicles on the horizon, I'm confident that there's plenty more fleet growth to come."
All of Jaguar Land Rover's key fleet models - the XE, XF Evoque and Discovery Sport -grew their share of the fleet sector more than any of their rivals when comparing the whole of 2015.
Both the Jaguar XE and XF increased the shares of their fleet sectors more than competitor models. Likewise, where the Range Rover Evoque and Discovery Sport grew their share of the fleet sector, rival models saw their share shrink.
The Range Rover Evoque is the star performer in 2016 so far, outselling all of its premium rivals with 18.3 per cent of fleet sales.
Fleet sales for 2016 are already on track to be the best yet, with a full-year of Ingenium-powered XE and XF sales, and the arrival of Evoque Convertible and F-PACE.
Already the best-selling Jaguar ever, one-in-six F-PACE sales is predicted to go to the fleet sector.
Mr Hicks predicts that JLR's fleet sales in 2016 will grow by 50% compared with 2015, with further double-digit growth through to 2020.
Jon Wackett, Jaguar Land Rover's general manager for feet and business, said: "Our Q1 2016 sales are a great example of the suitability that many of our new vehicles have for the fleet market.
‘We've really disrupted a market that has been traditionally dominated by three or four brands by introducing extremely desirable cars that represent real-world value for money. We are strategically aiming to balance volume of sales against maintaining strong residual values which is a core buying decision for our existing and future customers."
At the heart of Jaguar Land Rover UK's fleet and business sales successes this year are the technologies that underpin the range, according to Mr Wackett
‘The aluminium-intensive construction, ultra-efficient Ingenium engines and low ownership costs have ensured there's both a financial and an emotional reason to opt for a Jaguar or a Land Rover,' he said
As well as a £3bn investment in facilities and new models in 2015, Jaguar Land Rover UK has also significantly invested in the corporate sales structure. A specialist field-based sales team has been introduced across 50 Jaguar and Land Rover retailers supported by a further 22 people and led by five senior-level managers responsible for fleet and business sales.
With more than 500,000 cars built at its three UK plants - Liverpool, Solihull and Birmingham - JLR was the UK's largest car manufacturer last year.
Global sales of 487,065 (100,794 in the UK) were a record, the sixth year of consecutive growth and double the number sold in 2009.
In the past five years, JLR has spent £12bn in research and development, more than any other car maker by percentage of revenue.
The 4,500 workers at Halewood on Merseyside build the Evoque and Discovery while the 3,700 employees at Castle Bromwich produced the XJ, XF and F-Type.
The Range Rover, Range Rover Sport, Discovery, defender, XE and F-Pace are built by the 10,000 employees at Solihull.
Altogether, JLR employs 35,000 people in the UK including 900 at the engine manufacturing plant in Wolverhampton which builds powerplants for the XE, XF, F-Pace, Discovery Sport and Range Rover Evoque, 5,200 at the company's HQ at Whitley in Coventry and 8,000 at the Gaydon engineering design and testing centre in Warwickshire.
Work on a £500 million extension, which will double the size of the Wolverhampton engine site, will start soon.
In 2013, fleet sales accounted for 37 per cent of JLR's output. Last year it was 44 per cent which Mr Wackett said was proof that JLR has the ability to grow fleet volume as the vehicle range grows.
Jaguar fleet sales grew by 49 per cent to 6,562 vehicles last year while Land Rover grew 67 per cent to 14,472 vehicles - an overall growth of 50 per cent to 21,034 vehicles.
The cost of ownership of JLR fleet sales compares well against its main Mercedes, Audi and BMW rivals.
A Jaguar XE 2.0d Prestige manual will cost £35763 to own over three years/60,000 miles, some £2,000 less than an equivalent Mercedes C220d Executive or an Audi A4 2.0 TDI SE saloon.
Similarly, an F-PACE 2.0d AWD Prestige manual will cost £39,122 over the same period and distance, similar to the Audi Q5 2.0 TDI AWD SE manual but more thanr £3,000 less than a BMW X4 xDrive 2.0 SE manual.
Discovery Sport shows similar savings over its Audi and BMW rivals while the Evoque 2.0 TD4 AWD SE is some £2,000 cheaper to run than an Audi Q5 2.0 TDI SE AWD over three years.
"Our fleet strategy is young and it's working. We are growing faster than anyone else," said Mr Wackett.